For 2003, REI's operating income increased over 17% from $47.6 million to more than $56 million, with $19.1 million in net income – an increase of more than $3 million or 19% from the previous year. REI also had a 9.5% increase in total sales, from 2002's $735 million to $805 million in 2003.

“Our strong showing last year is enabling us to return a majority of our profits to our members, through a 10 percent member refund, while continuing to increase our corporate giving,” said REI CEO Dennis Madsen. “I'm particularly pleased that our financial strength allows us the opportunity to further our commitment to protecting our great outdoor places, and working with outdoor groups and non-profit organizations to introduce individuals, especially youth, to the outdoors.”

Madsen credits the success to a year of seasonally appropriate weather for outdoor recreation, as well as to the hard work and steadfast commitment of REI employees. He also points to a variety of other factors, including the strong performance of new, relocated and remodeled retail stores; greater commitment to in-store inventory; investment in new marketing strategies; as well as multichannel customer service and technology enhancements such as REI Store Pickup, which offers online customers the option of picking up orders at any REI retail store free of shipping charges.

Comp store growth for 2003 was 2.9 percent, and Direct Sales posted an overall gain of 12.2 percent, led by online sales growth from and

Supporting REI's business growth was the opening of new retail stores in Boston; San Francisco; Buford, GA; Durham, N.C.; Fairfax, VA; Folsom, CA; Sandy, UT; and the relocation of REI's Houston store. For 2004, REI will open six new stores in addition to this week's Portland store relocation to downtown's Pearl District, and the relocation of its Lynnwood store near Alderwood Mall in October.

Additionally, the introduction of REI Store Pickup surpassed all projections since the service was launched in July, increasing sales at REI's two e-commerce sites and at REI's retail store locations, with 31 percent of customers who use the service buying something while at the store to pick up their online order. REI continues to add new multichannel services with an enhanced gift registry service launched last week.

“Our results represent a remarkable year, particularly the third and fourth quarters in which we were well-positioned for an improving economy and an increase in consumer confidence,” added Madsen.

Last month REI was named for the seventh consecutive year to Fortune magazine's “100 Best Companies to Work For in America” list, ranking 24th. REI is one of only eight companies to have been included on each of the magazine lists and two book versions.